Gender and economic and social development ministers and high-level representatives from APEC member economies are pushing for more progress on women and girls’ economic empowerment, highlighting that it is important for sustainable recovery.
Convening in Bangkok, members reiterated their commitment to pursue policies and initiatives that promote an inclusive, equitable and sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that contribute decisively to the advancement of gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.
“We underline the importance of embedding the empowerment and advancement of women and gender equality in the Asia-Pacific region in line with APEC’s vision, roadmap, implementation plan and other relevant instruments agreed upon within the forum,” said Chuti Krairiksh, Thailand’s Minister of Social Development and Human Security.
At the 2022 APEC Women and the Economy Forum, Thailand’s APEC sustainability priority took center stage as the forum explores how it can provide more opportunities for women and how they can contribute to sustainability, including through the bio-circular-green (BCG) economy model.
“All challenges should be and can be transformed into opportunities,” Minister Chuti added. “Gender perspectives must be mainstreamed into our respective policies, action plans and budgets.”
“Importantly, all these policies, plans and budgets must be approved and implemented so that the needs of women and girls of diverse backgrounds will be addressed, and that women and girls will have equal opportunity and equitable access to capital and markets, labor force participation, leadership positions, education and digital skills training in a changing world,” Minister Chuti said.
Minister Chuti also reiterated that strengthening collaboration and networks are key to providing a supportive environment and that member economies need to create “an enabling environment that promotes inclusive development and empowerment for all women.”
Former Thailand Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva addressed the forum on Wednesday, highlighting how women are the driver for the economy of Thailand and many economies across the Asia-Pacific, but they are still not fairly represented in key political roles. He also reiterated the importance of sex disaggregated data as member economies integrate women’s empowerment and new economic opportunities.
“We need to do much more in terms of adopting policies that would support families,” said former Prime Minister Abhisit.
“Women often have that difficult choice of advancing their career and balancing it with what they see as family duties, and that continues to be the greatest barrier to advancement,” he added. “Policies that encompass child benefits, paid or unpaid leave, and also getting men to do their share of responsibilities in unpaid and domestic work, in my view, should be prioritized.”
“When it comes to women, we are talking about roughly half the population, there is simply no excuse why this inequity or this dimension of unfairness should continue,” said former Prime Minister Abhisit. “Women deserve better, the Asia-Pacific region deserves better, and the world deserves better.”
“As a forum, APEC is required by the Leaders, through the Aotearoa Plan of Action, to ensure that our growth is high quality and inclusive, brings palpable benefits and greater health and wellbeing to owners and employees of MSMEs, as well as women and others with untapped economic potential,” explained Dr Rebecca Sta Maria, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat.
“At the individual economy level, we need to adopt and strengthen regulatory approaches, sound public sector governance, and take other measures that support economic inclusion and well-being,” Dr Sta Maria added. “While at the collective level we will build on APEC’s agenda on advancing economic, financial and social inclusion by advancing inclusive policies, gender equality and the economic empowerment of women, and building on APEC’s work on supporting women’s economic empowerment.”
Dr Sta Maria echoed the need to have strong and reliable monitoring mechanisms to ensure that all plans and policies are implemented strategically across various sectors and levels.
At the forum, ministers and senior officials shared strategies and policies to strengthen women’s economic empowerment, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how to ensure women’s well-being while building a more resilient future.
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